Sunday, January 20, 2019

From 2018: Predicting sex from brain rhythms with deep learning

Predicting sex from brain rhythms with deep learning. Michel J. A. M. van Putten, Sebastian Olbrich & Martijn Arns. Scientific Reports, volume 8, Article number: 3069, Feb 2018.

Abstract: We have excellent skills to extract sex from visual assessment of human faces, but assessing sex from human brain rhythms seems impossible. Using deep convolutional neural networks, with unique potential to find subtle differences in apparent similar patterns, we explore if brain rhythms from either sex contain sex specific information. Here we show, in a ground truth scenario, that a deep neural net can predict sex from scalp electroencephalograms with an accuracy of >80% (p < 10−5), revealing that brain rhythms are sex specific. Further, we extracted sex-specific features from the deep net filter layers, showing that fast beta activity (20–25 Hz) and its spatial distribution is a main distinctive attribute. This demonstrates the ability of deep nets to detect features in spatiotemporal data unnoticed by visual assessment, and to assist in knowledge discovery. We anticipate that this approach may also be successfully applied to other specialties where spatiotemporal data is abundant, including neurology, cardiology and neuropsychology.

Cruelty against minorities, in writing, in a public forum: Calling them uneducated minds (???)

As a comment to this question (, someone says:
him: according to muslims the female brain is 1/4 of a man's brain, not in size but function.

This comment was reported. I discarded the report and kept the post. To soften things a bit, I replied. Dialog ensues:
me: I don't remember that... Do you have some reference of mainstream clerics?

him: There are many that speak this, quoting the koran. But obviously its all drivel and not worth spending too much time investigating aside from pure curiosity .

          Women have 'quarter of brain' says cleric

The idea in a group where people is working with patients with anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc., is to make things easy. Obviously, the guy was not understanding the message. I quote from his link, to make clear that the cleric's opinions are not mainstream:
me: "The cleric, who is head of fatwas (legal opinions) in the kingdom's Assir governorate, was banned on Thursday from preaching, leading prayers and other religious activities."

him: [my name] my intent here was only to insert a bit of humor...nothing they say would I ever take seriously. I have read the koran and I know how it does not apply to western society and the educated mind.

me: Your comment was reported, and it is giving me a lot of work.

him: [my name] what??? dont create drama where none was intended. just move on

An intelligent and considerate guy, who adapts to the public space we are on and is helpful to others. :-(

Is the female brain diffrent from male's ? and which gender is more likely to have a psychological disorder

Someone asked: Is the female brain diffrent from male's ? and which gender is more likely to have a psychological disorder (statisticly women but does that have anything to do with the previous question or is it simply because there is more women than men)

1 from 2017, differences in brain, by sex:

2 prevalence (age, sex, etc.), also percentages:

section 1.1: Depression, anxiety and other common mental disorders

section 1.2: Post-traumatic stress disorder

section 1.3: Bipolar disorder

section 1.4: Psychotic disorder

Predicting sex from brain rhythms with deep learning. Michel J. A. M. van Putten, Sebastian Olbrich & Martijn Arns. Scientific Reports, volume 8, Article number: 3069, Feb 2018.

Conservatives prefer political ideas that connect to the past; the preference is so strong, that they can be convinced of any idea, including liberal ones, if framed to connect to the past

Political conservatism as preference for the past.  Joris Lammers, Matt Baldwin. 51. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Psychologie, Frankfurt, Sep 2018,

Abstract: Differences in political ideology are traditionally seen as differences in preference what direction the country should head toward: more or less taxes, stricter or more lenient treatment of immigrants, etc. We test instead the effect of differences in temporal orientation. Specifically, we propose that political conservatives (those at the right) are more focused on the past, compared to liberals (those on the left).  Therefore, conservatives prefer political ideas that connect to the past. We propose that this preference is so strong, that conservatives can be convinced of any political idea – including liberal ideas – if these are framed to connect to the past. We find robust support for this idea in more than 20 experiments. In each study, conservatives disliked liberal political plans, but accepted those same liberal plans if they were framed to connect to the past. Using a past-focused frame leads political conservatives to misattribute their warm and nostalgic feelings for the past onto liberal ideas and therefore support them. For example, American conservatives opposed climate change policies (e.g. the Paris Agreement), but they support them if they were framed as attempts at restoring the pristine nature of the past. German conservatives opposed admitting more refugees from Syria, but embraced them if immigration was framed as part of a German tradition. All in all, temporal framing reduced conservatives’ disagreement with liberal ideas by between 30 percent and 100 percent. Furthermore, the effect replicates across various countries, including the USA, Britain, and Germany. We also show the process behind this effect, by focusing on the mediating role of nostalgia and moderating role of processing style. All in all, these studies suggest that a large portion of the political disagreement between conservatives and liberals is not (only) about the content, but also largely about the stylistics of how political ideas are presented. This suggests that political differences are much easier to solve than previously though.

In comparatively religious counties religious individuals (i.e., persons buried in graves with religious imagery) lived longer than non-religious individuals did; no such an effect in comparatively secular counties

What the dead tell us about the living: Regionally varying associations between religiosity and longevity based on gravestone inscriptions. Tobias Ebert, Jochen E Gebauer, Jildou Talman, P. Jason Rentrow. 51. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Psychologie, Frankfurt, Sep 2018,

Abstract: A large array of psychological research shows that religiosity can be a valuable source of health benefits and may even prolong the life. However, it is still unclear whether this relationship is universal or specific to contexts where religiosity is part of the normative lifestyle. We argue that, before reaching a conclusion, it is important to acknowledge two important limitations of existing research. Specifically, previous research a) solely relied on self-report survey information to measure an individual’s religiosity and b) mainly compared nations, while almost fully neglecting intranational variation. We suggest an innovative approach that employs an alternative, arguably more objective measure of religiosity and a very fine-grained resolution of the socio- cultural context. Specifically, we operationalize individuals’ religiosity and longevity by the inscriptions and imagery on their gravestone. To this end, we used an online database to draw a sample of 1,600 graves from 16 counties in the USA and coded the appearance of each gravestone. We find that in comparatively religious counties religious individuals (i.e., persons buried in graves with religious imagery) lived longer than non-religious individuals did. Speaking in favor of a culturally specific relationship, we do not find such an effect in comparatively secular counties. Finally, we also discuss the potentials and limitations of gravestone data as an unused source to inform psychological research in general.

An Evolutionary Perspective on Why Food Overconsumption Impairs Cognition

An Evolutionary Perspective on Why Food Overconsumption Impairs Cognition. Mark P. Mattson. Trends in Cognitive Sciences,


*  Neuronal networks in brain regions critical for spatial navigation and decision-making evolved to enable success in competition for limited food availability in hazardous environments.

*  A major ecological factor that drove the evolution of cognition, namely food scarcity, has been largely eliminated from the day-to-day experiences of modern-day humans and domesticated animals.

*  Continuous availability and consumption of energy-rich food in relatively sedentary modern-day humans negatively impacts the lifetime cognitive trajectories of parents and their children.

*  Epigenetic molecular DNA and chromatin protein modifications are impacted by energy intake and can propagate to future generations.

*  The cellular and molecular mechanisms by which intermittent food deprivation enhances cognition and overfeeding impairs cognition are being elucidated.

*  A better understanding of the food-centric evolutionary foundations of human brain neuroplasticity is leading to the development of novel bioenergetic challenge-based patterns of eating and exercise aimed at improving cognitive health and resilience.

Abstract: Brain structures and neuronal networks that mediate spatial navigation, decision-making, sociality, and creativity evolved, in part, to enable success in food acquisition. Here, I discuss evidence suggesting that the reason that overconsumption of energy-rich foods negatively impacts cognition is that signaling pathways that evolved to respond adaptively to food scarcity are relatively disengaged in the setting of continuous food availability. Obesity impairs cognition and increases the risk for some psychiatric disorders and dementias. Moreover, maternal and paternal obesity predispose offspring to poor cognitive outcomes by epigenetic molecular mechanisms. Neural signaling pathways that evolved to bolster cognition in settings of food insecurity can be stimulated by intermittent fasting and exercise to support the cognitive health of current and future generations.

The Psychology of Morality: A Review and Analysis of Empirical Studies Published From 1940 Through 2017

The Psychology of Morality: A Review and Analysis of Empirical Studies Published From 1940 Through 2017. Naomi Ellemers et al. Personality and Social Psychology Review,

Abstract: We review empirical research on (social) psychology of morality to identify which issues and relations are well documented by existing data and which areas of inquiry are in need of further empirical evidence. An electronic literature search yielded a total of 1,278 relevant research articles published from 1940 through 2017. These were subjected to expert content analysis and standardized bibliometric analysis to classify research questions and relate these to (trends in) empirical approaches that characterize research on morality. We categorize the research questions addressed in this literature into five different themes and consider how empirical approaches within each of these themes have addressed psychological antecedents and implications of moral behavior. We conclude that some key features of theoretical questions relating to human morality are not systematically captured in empirical research and are in need of further investigation.

Keywords: moral reasoning, moral behavior, moral judgment, moral self-views, moral emotions

Paradoxically too, those who care less about their moral identity may actually be more consistent in their behavior and more accurate in their self-reports as they are less bothered by appearing morally inadequate. As a result, all the research that reveals self-defensive responses when people are unable to live up to their own standards or those of others, or when they are reminded of their moral lapses, implies that there is limited value in relying on people’s self- stated moral principles or moral ideals to predict their real- life behaviors.

On an applied note, this paradox of morality also clarifies some of the difficulties of aiming for moral improvement by confronting people with their morally questionable behav- iors. Such criticism undermines people’s moral self-views and likely raises guilt and shame. This in turn elicits self- defensive responses (justifications, victim blaming, moral disengagement) in particular among those who think of themselves as endorsing universal moral guidelines prescrib- ing fairness and care. Furthermore, questioning people’s moral viewpoints easily raises moral outrage and aggression toward others who think differently. This is also visible in studies examining moral rebels and moral courage (those who stand up for their own principles) or moral entrepreneurship and moral exporting (those who actively seek to convince others of their own moral principles). While the behavior of such individuals would seem to deserve praise and admiration as exemplifying morality, it also involves going against other people’s convictions and challenging their values, which is not always welcomed by these others. All these responses stand in the way of behavioral improve- ment. Instead of focusing on people’s explicit moral choices to make them adapt their behavior, it may therefore be more effective to nudge them toward change by altering goal primes, situational features, or decision frames.